Tuesday, March 19, 2024

New Release Excerpt Spotlight ~ CAPE RAGE by Ron Corbett

Cape Rage (Danny Barrett, #2)
by: Ron Corbett
Series: Danny Barrett
Genre: Murder Thriller/Police Procedurals
Release Date: March 19, 2024
Publisher: Berkley

Danny Barrett is caught between a family of criminals and the psychopath who is tracking them in the latest novel of the series the New York Times calls, "Dynamite."

The FBI has a hundred undercover agents who can work in the city, but Danny Barrett is the one they call when they need someone to investigate crimes in the wilderness.

This case is a particularly difficult one. For more than a century the Danby family have ruled as kings in their corner of the Pacific Northwest. The Feds were mostly willing to look the other way while the family smuggled everything from liquor to cigarettes across the border, but lately things have taken a darker turn.

A recent bank robbery in Seattle looks like it may have been committed by the Danbys, but there's no way the FBI can get any locals to turn against them. Only Danny Barrett has what it takes to get inside the organization and shut them down.

But before Danny can do that he's going to have to contend with Henry Carter, a former in-law and current psychopath. The Danbys thought they left Henry for dead in the deepest part of the woods, but he's coming back. He'll go to hell to get his revenge, and he's willing to take the whole family with him.

Gardner laughed when Hart said "Mr. Barrett" and his boss gave him another nasty look-but it was still as nasty as a man with feathered hair and a gray-checked suit could muster. Gardner laughed a few more times before saying, "This is a joke. Are we really supposed to call this guy Barrett?"

"That's his operational name, Frank."

"Not his real name. This guy can't even play straight with us, the people he fuckin' works for?"

I turned to Gardner with what I hoped was a look of great weariness upon my face. People in my line of work don't have a lot of fans. I get called in when cases have stalled or are about to go bust. The agents already working those cases don't usually like the help. I've almost come to expect a bit of hostility, and I'm not above responding in kind.

"I don't work for you," I said to Gardner. "It was your boss who put in a request with the Detroit police. That's who I work for. And you're calling me Barrett because I know men in the ground today who are there because some local suit got the names mixed up. I will never be anything but Danny Barrett to you."

He wasn't ruffled. "Professional spook. Your family must be proud," he sneered.

"Frank, we've gone over this a thousand times," Hart almost yelled. Then he looked embarrassed at almost yelling, looked at me and said, "There's been some disagreement . . . internally . . . about your vocation and its . . . necessity."

"Debate away. I don't need to be here."

"I'm glad you are. I'll make sure Frank plays nice, don't worry about that. I'm the boss, just like you said. Frank, explain it to him."

I was startled. Hart couldn't pull off the look, but his voice dropped about an octave when he said Frank, explain it to him and there was some sand and grit to it suddenly, something menacing and surprisingly competent. Gardner still gave his head a slow shake-the recalcitrant puppy being brought to heel-but eventually he got around to telling me why Hart put in the request, and why I was in Seattle.

"We need corroborating evidence that the Danbys were the ones who robbed that bank," he began. "Our lawyers don't think the security tape will be enough. They think that without corroborating evidence the tape would be ruled inadmissible at trial. Because of the ongoing investigation into the Danbys that is being conducted by this office, the robbery case has been transferred from San Francisco to Seattle and is the reason we have requested your services, Mr. Barrett."

It took him ten more minutes to explain the FBI's plan. He must have used six or seven sneers in the telling, saving the biggest for his close, which he probably had rehearsed in his mind, and went like this, said without pause or hesitation: "So that's pretty much it-we need you to go to Cape Rage and get hired by the Danbys; we need you to get over to Danby Island and find evidence that will link the Danbys to the bank robbery in San Francisco; if you get on that island, by the way, you'll be the first cop to ever see it, and congratulations to you; once you're on the island and have secured the corroborating evidence we need you to get that intel to the operation commander-that will be me-then we need you to be ready and prepared to assist the operational commander in any way he deems necessary when we come over to that island and shut the motherfuckers down."

The last words came out in a rush, the syllables smashing into each other like boxcars in a train wreck, and when he was done, Gardner laughed, and sneered, and asked, "What do you say, Barrett? Want the job?"

Maybe it was the laugh. Maybe it was not wanting to give a sneer-freak the last sneer. I've thought about it a thousand times and I'm not sure why I didn't take more time with my answer that morning; why I didn't take another look at that mean, restless sky outside Hart's window and ask myself what sort of story comes with a sky like that?

Instead, I looked at Gardner, shrugged my shoulders and asked, "Is that all?"

That is one beginning for this story. There is another: three days earlier, when Henry Carter awakes on a patch of fern moss and finds himself staring at high cirrus clouds. He hears the one-note trilling of a cardinal. The spinning of car wheels. Feels the moss beneath him turn warm and wet, as he bleeds out.

In time, the cardinal flies away, the car wheels fade, and after that comes a great silence, a muteness broad and deep enough for him to tumble into. He spins in the silence a long time, what seems like days, until a foul smell comes over him and he reawakens.

He rolled when he was shot, and he is grateful he isn't face down. He lifts his head and sees blood pooling around his waist. It is starting to discolor. The reason for the smell. He lays his head down and goes back to watching clouds.

He doesn't spend time thinking about the betrayal. Not right away. It happened. He should have seen it coming. He doesn't allow more than that, not until the last minutes before he loses consciousness a second time, when he remembers her face.

The way she looked when he saw her last. Surprised. But not as surprised as she should have been. Questioning. But not in a good way. Wondering whether she should run. Whether that was the smart play and whether she had the time for it.

He knew the look.

When he reawakens, the air has chilled and there are black dots in front of the clouds, as though they have mottled. He wonders what would cause a thing like that, but no answer comes to him.

His father had an expression for her. He remembers that. "Tess Danby ain't no hand-upper, son." When he asked his father what that meant, he'd answered, "Means that gal is a great many things, Henry, but one thing she'll never be is any help to a man when he's down."

Funny. Is that funny now?

He ponders the question for the rest of the day, until the wind gathers strength and the late-afternoon gnats come and then are blown away; until the shadows climb down from the upper branches of the trees and begin to lie for the night; until the last of the day's light fades, glimmer by glimmer, from the forest floor. Just before the world goes dark, Henry Carter decides the question doesn't matter much-Tess Danby isn't there now-and it would be right and proper, an action befitting the facts, to kill his wife if he ever has the chance.

Excerpted from Cape Rage by Ron Corbett Copyright © 2024 by Ron Corbett. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Ron Corbett is a writer, journalist, broadcaster, and cofounder of Ottawa Press and Publishing. A lifelong resident of Ottawa, Ron’s writing has won numerous awards, including two National Newspaper Awards. He has been a full-time columnist with both the Ottawa Citizen and the Ottawa Sun. He is the author of seven nonfiction books, including Canadian bestseller The Last Guide and the critically acclaimed First Soldiers Down, about Canada’s military deployment to Afghanistan. The first book in his Frank Yakabuski Mysteries was nominated for the Best Paperback Original Edgar® Award. Credit for Ron’s author photo goes to Julie Oliver.

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